Lazzi specializes in the use of masks in the theatre. The mask introduces
a new language into the communication between players and audience that
is entirely its own. Lazzi is interested in the way this communication
takes shape and in the power of expression that lies within the mask.
Masks in the theatre
Nowadays the world of theatre is characterized by a strong aversion to
the use of masks. Studio Lazzi has noted that masks are only used in traditional
roles these days.
Lazzi is always looking for new and different ways of presenting masks
on stage. The masks designed for theatre company SULT were abstract. The
shape of castles, cathedrals and squares has greatly influenced their
design. The lay-out of the sites where the performances were to take place,
was copied in the masks. The effect on the audience was one of estrangement.
Lazzi is currently developing a play that involves the projection of masks
and the effect a mask will have on the audience when it changes in expression
during the play.Lazzi
is also working on a series of masks made out of felt. The quest for new
shapes and materials operates as the mask studio’s mainspring.
The mask in old times
The history of the mask runs parallel to the development of the theatre
in the western world. In ancient Greece, theatre was an important and
prominent part of its culture. The Greeks used burlesque masks to portray
a connection between immortal deities and mortal men. Many centuries later
Commedia dell’Arte groups in Italy rediscovered the use of masks.
The Commedia dell’Arte is a specific theatrical style that came
into being in Italy in the sixteenth century. Unemployed actors tried
to earn money by combining their talents and creating a play together.
These plays were usually performed in the streets, close to the ordinary
citizens. Leather masks were used to emphasize the burlesque and caricature-like
nature of their characters. This time around, however, the masks were
used to humanize social institutions, such as the character of Pantalone
the master, a symbol of power, and Arlechinno the worker and/ or servant.
Masks once again disappeared from the stage when textual plays came into
The mask in recent
At the beginning of the twentieth century the mask made a come-back. In
reaction to textual plays a new interest developed in the physical performance
of the actor. The neutral mask is now used as an instrument to develop
the physical presentation of the actor. Lazzi is trying to design a mould
for a perfectly neutral mask. Also, the Commedia dell’Arte masks
have made their way back into the spotlights again. Specifically at drama
schools and theatre institutions interest in these masks increases. Many
drama teachers long to possess their own set of masks.